Here we go again. Lawmakers in Charleston are once again trying to pass the so-called “Sudafed Bill” at the expense of cold and allergy sufferers across the region.
While the intent of this controversial legislation is noble, the measure as currently proposed is flawed. It’s another example of government attempting to regulate our lives. Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, is once again leading the fight to pass this ill-conceived measure. The same bill was correctly killed in last year’s legislative session.
The goal of the proposed legislation is to crack down on methamphetamine makers by restricting their access to medicines needed to make the drug. The problem with the bill is it targets 15 common household products used to treat colds, allergies and sinus difficulties that are currently available behind-the-counter, but without a doctor’s prescription, for cold and allergy sufferers.
Those who wish to purchase these behind-the-counter cold and allergy medications must already comply with strict electronic tracking regulations. This includes providing a driver’s license, or other form of personal identification, before receiving the behind-the-counter medications.
Foster’s proposed legislation would require allergy and cold sufferers to go to the doctor, pay a co-pay and a large doctor’s bill to boot, and then go to the pharmacist to shell out additional money for something that is currently available without a prescription. This gives new meaning to the concept of government overreach into the lives of everyday citizens. If there is a problem with the current electronic monitoring system, why not fix the system that is already in place?
Yes, we realize that the burgeoning meth problem in the Mountain State is a serious threat that must be addressed. But punishing cold and allergy sufferers is not the correct way to fight this problem.
Instead, lawmakers should be taking steps to strengthen the additional electronic monitoring system that is in place. If there is a loophole in the existing law — or a way for meth producers to get around the current monitoring system — then we must find a way to correct it.
Let’s be realistic about this. Not everyone suffering from a bad allergy or cold can afford to go to the doctor. We would hope that Foster understands this. However, he does represent the more affluent northern half of the state. In the deep south counties, many families are still struggling to make ends meet. Going to the doctor is often not an option when you have a cold, or a bad allergy. Those families instead are dependent upon being able to purchase common cold and allergy medicines from the local department store or supermarket.
Lawmakers must shelve Foster’s ill-conceived “Sudafed Bill.” Let’s fix the existing rules we have in place first. Don’t punish those who are suffering from legitimate cold or allergy symptoms.